Gary Smith of Brady Concessions, LLC., takes a test spin on the children's ride, Construction Zone, Friday morning. Employees are preparing for the 70th Annual Brazil Rotary Club Fourth of July Celebration in Forest Park that begins today and runs through Monday, July 4.
With almost 221 million pounds of fireworks sold in the United States during 2003, and the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA) expecting an increase this year, it seems that everyone likes fireworks.
"It's one of the neatest forms of outdoor entertainment available to celebrate patriotism there is," Brazil Rotarian Mark Adamson said of the 25-minute Gala Fireworks Show for the Brazil Rotary Club's 4th of July Celebration he organizes. "The war has made people very patriotic minded and I think it creates excitement for these types of events."
Every July, thousands of people gather at various wide-open locations around the country in anxious anticipation of a professional pyrotechnic fireworks display. But with many states relaxing the local ordinances and laws regarding the sale of "consumer" fireworks, many people are staying home to enjoy their own backyard displays.
"We had people extremely interested and asking in the early spring when the consumer fireworks would be available," said Adamson, who also owns Aerial Arts and Party Explosion on National Ave. "People are a lot more interested in fireworks this year. In early June the sales started to spike and we had a lot of people browsing the store. I think the growing patriotism and the three day weekend will help create a lot of interest this year."
"Consumer" fireworks include cone and cylindrical fountains, sparklers, snakes, pull string fireworks, certain sparklers and revolving wheels.
"We want everyone to be safe during the holiday. People need to realize it is our job to keep them safe, even if that means enforcing a law to keep them safe from themselves," Clay County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Doug Barr said of calls from residents about reckless behavior with fireworks. "Responsible people having a good time are not who we are looking for. It's the irresponsible ones that concern us most."
Illegal fireworks are a serious problem for good reasons. Illegal devices such as cherry bombs, silver salutes and M80s have been federally banned since 1966 due to the large amounts of explosive material contained within these items.
"People need to remember that just because a type of fireworks device is sold in Indiana doesn't mean that it can be used in the state," Brazil City Police Chief Mark Loudermilk said of the confusion surrounding the law that allows these types of devices to be made available for sale. "Fireworks that explode in the air or travel along the ground on their own power are not legal for use in Indiana."
When buying non-consumer devices at fireworks outlets, every of age person making a purchase must sign a document stating that they will be taking the devices outside the state for detonation. Officials agree that people ignore the document and use the fireworks at their homes, which in the rural areas is not as big a problem as detonating the fireworks in the city.
"Our problem in the city is that using these types of devices, with people living in such close proximity to each other, property is damaged," Loudermilk said. The city police receive a large number of complaints during the holiday concerning reckless behavior with aerial fireworks like bottle rockets and shells. "It does become difficult to answer all the calls when officers are so busy with the celebration in the park, but we will issue citations to people for using such fireworks in the city."
According to the APA, illegal fireworks devices will usually be unlabeled, will not have a printed caution statement or instructions for proper usage and will not list the manufacturer's or the distributor's name on the packaging.
There has been a 75 percent drop in fireworks-related injuries since 1990 due to new safety standards set by the fireworks industry. But over the past 10 years, 30-33 percent of the injuries associated with fireworks have typically been caused by illegal explosives or homemade fireworks. Serious injuries, including deaths, have been connected with these types of devices.
The American Pyrotechnics Association and The National Council on Fireworks Safety strongly urge people to use the following safety tips when using fireworks:
- Buy fireworks from reliable sources and store them in a cool, dry place until used.
- Never experiment or attempt to make your own fireworks.
- Have an adult supervise all fireworks activities while always reading and following the label directions.
- Eye protection should always be worn and no part of the shooter's body should ever be placed over a lit firework.
-Fireworks should be ignited outdoors one at a time away from buildings and vehicles and never thrown at another person.
-Never shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers or attempt to re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.
-Keep a bucket of water handy in case of emergency.